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By Tiffany Michelle Brown


     When I get home from dance class, I go to the refrigerator and pull out an individual-sized cheesecake bar. After hours of exertion—tendus, battements, pirouettes, 5-6-7-8—the tang of cream cheese and crumble of graham cracker are sheer perfection.

     I imagine the sugar coating my muscles and each one exerting a contented sigh in response. I eat a spoonful of peanut butter and handful after handful of Ritz crackers before hitting the shower to wash the salt off my skin. In the bathroom, I admire my naked reflection. I flex my biceps and watch them pop. I tap dance in the tub. I smile as I fall asleep.

• • •


     Despite the holiday season, I’ve lost weight and everyone keeps telling me how great I look. I see myself reflected in their eyes, a fine cutout doll, its edges free of perforation. I start to look in the mirror a lot more often. I start to examine. I like to see what they see.

• • •


     It’s 5:30 in the morning. My mom is still asleep in her bedroom down the hall, so the volume on the boom box is low. I’m halfway through my daily set of crunches, and my muscles burn while Janet Jackson sings about partying all night.


About the Author

Tiffany Michelle Brown is a writer, Aikido practicioner, archer, and whisky enthusiast who ran away from the deserts of Phoenix, Arizona, to live near the beaches of San Diego, California. Her fiction has been featured in Penduline, Black Denim Lit, Shooter, and Romance Magazine. Follow her adventures at